Time for some adverbs – fluency hacks for fast-paced chat

A pocket watch with the time showing as quarter past three. Image from freeimages.com.

I’m a big fan of the speaking bingo sheet for conversation prep. I try to make use of them whenever I have an iTalki lesson, for example (as well as the time to prep one beforehand!). One of the most… Continue reading

300 Words for Functional Fluency : Miss Swanson’s Elucidating Experiment

Is the starting point for functional fluency a list of the right core words? Photo by acscom from freeImages.com

Decrepit, dusty old language learning books from bygone days are a guilty pleasure of mine. And sometimes, the most obscure, long-forgotten tomes throw up some shining treasures. Leafing through one such volume this week week, I stumbled across a fascinating… Continue reading

Vocabulary cross-platforming : make your DIY language learning data work harder

A computer screen (image from freeimages.com)

A major feature of language learning in the digital world is the abundance of tools for building and testing your own vocabulary banks. Anki, Quizlet, Educandy, StudyBlue, Cram… There are all sorts of platforms for collecting and drilling the words… Continue reading

Finnish in seven days? Express language projects and learning how to learn

Finnish in Finland : the Lutheran Cathedral in Helsinki

How much of a new foreign language can we learn in just seven days? It’s a tempting question that captures our imagination and challenges our mettle as polyglots. And it’s one I set out to answer with Finnish, as I… Continue reading

Language immersion, Irish style : learning tips from a bilingual state

Irish countryside (photo by Brian Lary, freeimages.com)

It feels like I’ve been in Ireland rather a lot, lately. It’s partly due to my fairly late discovery that there is this beautiful, fascinating country to explore only a hop away from my own. But a large part of… Continue reading

À la modal : how these little nuancing verbs can fix your fluency

Modal verbs can lend colour to your speech (image from freeimages.com)

I have a nerdish love of verbs. For me, it’s where it all comes together in language. They are sentence glue. Conjugate them, and you can hang the rest of the sentence from them like on the branches of a… Continue reading

Five Ways to Stick to Language Learning Resolutions

A new calendar means new language learning resolutions. But how to stick to them? (Image from freeimages.com)

We are well into the New Year now, and – if you are like me – you probably have a list of language learning resolutions as long as your arm. But doesn’t cold, damp January feel like the longest and… Continue reading

Coaching and languages: the travelling partner you need?

Language learners are used to working with others. These tend to be language specialists: teachers, conversation exchange partners or fellow students. But support in learning languages does not have to be in the target language. Not convinced? Well recently, I’ve… Continue reading

Google Sheets magic tricks for language learners

Data laser

The best language partners not only open your eyes to new words, but to new techniques. It is always the case with excellent iTalki teacher and polyglot friend Marcel Balzer, for example. Never short of fantastic tips, he recently shared a… Continue reading

Speaking without words: optimising your target language with non-verbal communication

Non-verbal communication, such as hand gestures, are just as vital as speaking when it comes to real-life language use

Sticking to your target language isn’t always easy. But it’s a rule worth sticking to. Denying yourself the luxury of speaking your native language is vital in building up mental ingenuity and spontaneous, flexible thinking as a linguist. However, it… Continue reading